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Acute Corticosterone Administration during Meiotic Segregation Stimulates Females to Produce More Male Offspring

Sara E. Pinson, Christina M. Parr, Jeanna L. Wilson and Kristen J. Navara
Physiological and Biochemical Zoology: Ecological and Evolutionary Approaches
Vol. 84, No. 3 (May/June 2011), pp. 292-298
DOI: 10.1086/659373
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/659373
Page Count: 7
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Acute Corticosterone Administration during Meiotic Segregation Stimulates Females to Produce More Male Offspring
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Abstract

AbstractBirds have demonstrated a remarkable ability to manipulate offspring sex. Previous studies suggest that treatment with hormones can stimulate females to manipulate offspring sex before ovulation. For example, chronic treatments with corticosterone, the primary stress hormone produced by birds, stimulated significant skews toward female offspring. It has been suggested that corticosterone acts by influencing which sex chromosome is donated by the heterogametic female bird into the ovulated ovarian follicle. However, it is difficult to pinpoint when in developmental time corticosterone affects offspring sex, because in previous studies corticosterone treatment was given over a long period of time. We treated laying hens with acute high-dose corticosterone injections 5 h before the predicted time of ovulation and quantified the sexes of the subsequently ovulated eggs to determine whether mechanisms exist by which corticosterone can skew offspring sex ratios just before ovulation. We hypothesized that an injection of corticosterone coincident with segregation of the sex chromosomes would stimulate hens to produce more female than male offspring. Contrary to our predictions, hens injected with corticosterone produced a significant bias toward male offspring, nearly 83%. These results suggest that acute corticosterone treatment during meiosis I can influence primary sex ratios in birds, potentially through nonrandom chromosome segregation. Furthermore, acute corticosterone exposure, compared with chronic exposure, may act through different mechanisms to skew offspring sex.

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